Company fined after fatal accident at Corrib Gas Tunnel site

On Tuesday in the Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Rory McCabe imposed a fine of €300,000 on Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau AG. The company, Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau AG, pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 12 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, contrary to Section 77(2 ) and Regulation 31(b ) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application ) Regulations, 2007.

The case arose as the result of a fatal accident at Corrib Gas Tunnel construction site Aughoos in north Mayo. The 4.9km tunnel was constructed under Sruwaddacon Bay as part of the project to bring gas ashore. On September 8, 2013 Mr Lars Wagner, an employee of Herrenknecht AG, received fatal head injuries when a pipe he was working under collapsed on top of him as a result of an over pressure event in that pipe system. The accident occurred in the gear chamber of a tunnel boring machine that was constructing the tunnel. Mr Wagner was engaged in maintenance activity at the time of the accident.

The tunnel boring machine was in operation while Mr Wagner was in the gear chamber, contrary to the tunnel boring machine manual that stated that maintenance work should only be carried out on a stopped tunnel boring machine.

The company (Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau AG ) pleaded guilty to: (1 ) Failure to manage and conduct their undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that in the course of the work being carried on, individuals at the place of work (not being their employees ) were not exposed to risks to their safety, health or welfare, in that they failed to ensure that a tunnel boring machine being operated in the tunnel was stopped operating while a person, namely, Lars Wagner, was carrying out maintenance work in the gear chamber of the said tunnel boring machine; and (2 ) Failure to ensure, when it was possible, that maintenance work on the chamber of the tunnel boring machine, being work equipment within the meaning of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application ) Regulations 2007, was carried out when the said tunnel boring machine was shut down.

Brian Higgisson, assistant chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority said: “Maintenance operations can be dangerous and should always take place in a planned and controlled manner. The most important consideration is to make sure that work does not place anyone in danger, in this case the failure to follow safety procedures led to tragedy.”

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